Sydney, Australia, Feb 27 (efe-epa).- Australian oil and gas company Woodside announced Saturday it will pull workers from Myanmar due to “human rights violations” since the Feb. 1 coup, becoming the latest blow to foreign investment in the Southeast Asian nation
“Woodside condemns human rights violations. Reports of violence against the Myanmar people participating in peaceful protests are deeply distressing,” it said in a statement, adding that it had watched post-coup events with “growing concern.”
“We are reducing our presence in country and expect full demobilization of our offshore exploration drilling team over the coming weeks,” it said.
The Australian company said it supported the people of Myanmar and a “peaceful journey to democracy.”
“Until we see the outlook for Myanmar and its political stability has improved, Woodside will keep all business decisions under review,” said the oil company, which entered the country in 2013 and said that it does not have “any direct commercial arrangements” with the military or companies linked to it.
The move is in contrast to comments made by Woodside CEO Peter Coleman a week ago when he told Energy News Bulletin that “it’s not up to us to judge the veracity of grievances they (the military) have around the previous election process.”
“I understand they’ve put together quite an extensive folder of grievances around the election that they wanted to be heard and they weren’t being heard,” Coleman said.
“They were pushed up against a difficult decision point, the day of the coup was the day the new parliament was due to proceed.”
It’s believed the company has 100 staff in Myanmar and it has continued exploratory drilling since the Feb. 1 coup.
According to the nonprofit Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least eight people have died as a result of violence following the coup, while at least another 771 have arrested, and 82 of them have been released.
Woodside is the latest foreign company to put a stop to its activity in Myanmar after the Japanese car manufacturer Suzuki announced the temporary closure of its plants and Japanese brewer Kirin broke its commercial ties to the military, among other companies and investors. EFE-EPA